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Pierre Bonaparte

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Title: Pierre Bonaparte  
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Subject: Second French Empire, Victor Henri Rochefort, Marquis de Rochefort-Luçay, Victor Noir
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Pierre Bonaparte

Pierre Napoleon Bonaparte
Prince Pierre-Napoléon Bonaparte
Spouse Justine Eleanore Ruflin
Roland Napoleon Bonaparte
Jeanne, Marquise de Villeneuve-Escaplon
House House of Bonaparte
Father Lucien Bonaparte
Mother Alexandrine de Bleschamp
Born (1815-10-11)11 October 1815
Rome, Italy
Died 7 April 1881(1881-04-07) (aged 65)
Versailles, France
Burial Cimetière des Gonards, Versailles, France

Prince Pierre-Napoléon Bonaparte (11 October 1815 – 7 April 1881) was born in Rome, Italy, the son of Prince Lucien Bonaparte and his second wife Alexandrine de Bleschamp.

He was a nephew of Napoleon I of France, Joseph Bonaparte, Elisa Bonaparte, Louis Bonaparte, Pauline Bonaparte, Caroline Bonaparte and Jérôme Bonaparte.


He began his life of adventure at the age of fifteen, joining the insurrectionary bands in the Romagna (1830 . errs. 1831); was then in the United States, where he went to join his uncle Joseph, and in Colombia with Francisco de Paula Santander (1832). Returning to Rome he was taken prisoner by order of Pope Gregory XVI (1835–1836). He finally took refuge in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

At the revolution of 1848 he returned to France and was elected deputy for Corsica to the Constituent Assembly. He declared himself an out-and-out republican and voted even with the socialists. He pronounced himself in favour of the national workshops and against the loi Falloux. His attitude contributed greatly to give popular confidence to his cousin Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III of France), of whose coup d'état on 2 December 1851 he disapproved; but he was soon reconciled to the emperor, and accepted the title of prince. The republicans at once abandoned him.

From that time on he led a debauched life, and lost all political importance. He turned to literature and published some mediocre poems. In January 1870 a violent incident brought him again into prominence. As the result of a controversy with Paschal Grousset, the latter sent him two journalists as witnesses to set the terms of a duel. Pierre Bonaparte took them personally to account, and during a violent discussion he drew his revolver and killed one of them, Victor Noir. This crime greatly excited the republican press, which demanded his trial. The High Court acquitted him, and criticism then fell upon the government. The reason for the acquittal was not pressure by the Emperor or his minions. Actually Napoleon III had little use for his troublesome cousin, and wanted a conviction. But the defense of Prince Pierre showed that Victor Noir was not actually the journalist that he was supposed to be, but actually was the "bully" or bodyguard who assisted various left wing writers (such as Henri Rochefort) to go around and beat up opponents or people they disliked with impunity. The medical evidence showed that Noir, far from just slapping Prince Pierre, hit such a blow on his cheek as to cause it to swell. Furthermore he was armed with a sword stick, and his fellow second had a concealed gun. In reality the Prince had fired in self-defense, and the jury realized that.

Prince Pierre Bonaparte died in obscurity at Versailles. He is interred in the Cimetière des Gonards in Versailles.

Wife and Children

On 22 March 1853, Pierre married the daughter of a Paris plumber working as a doorman, Justine Elénore Rufflin, by whom he had had two children previously. Altogether the couple had an offspring of ten. Notable were:

  • 4th son: Prince Roland Napoleon Bonaparte (19 May 1858 - 14 April 1924). He entered the French Army, was excluded from it in 1886, and then devoted himself to geography and scientific explorations. He was father to Marie Bonaparte.
  • Princess Jeanne Bonaparte (25 September 1861 - 23 July 1910). Married Christian, Marquis de Villeneuve-Esclapon.

External links

  • Project Gutenberg


  • Williams, Roger L. Manners and Murders in the World of Louis-Napoleon (Seattle, London: University of Washington Press, c.1975), 127-150. ISBN 0-295-95431-0

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